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How to Fight Fog and Overcome Clarity Deficit Disorder

by Steve Woodruff  |  
July 26, 2012

Given the vast amount of information and noise that occupies the minds of our customers each day, you might be accurate in saying that one of our toughest competitors is Marketplace ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder).

You know that constant stream of consciousness that goes on in your mind and how difficult it is to truly arrest your attention, right?

Which means that our message has to be very sharp and highly memorable to cut through the fog.

Unfortunately, not only do customers have ADD, but many businesses have an even worse case of CDD (Clarity Deficit Disorder), which only compounds the problem. You can't fight fog with fog.

What is CDD? Simply put, it's the inability to be vividly precise and memorable in 28 seconds or less. (Note: There's not a single clinical study to back up that number, in case you were wondering. I made it up. But now, you'll remember it!)

Many small businesses (and consultants) market their services with a list of bullet points. "We do this, and this, and this, and this... We'll also do that if you ask nicely." Other folks aspire to join the Jargoneers by using a bunch of meaningless but important-sounding biz speak ("We energize enterprise engagement by elevating endless echolalia").

Fog. You have an offering, you have a prospective customer, you have an opening, and you deliver... Phileas Fogg.

Pumping more hot air into the process won't help. What's needed is less fog and more light.

A clear offering is different from the commodities that surround it. A clear message distills the benefit in a way that can be transmitted via referral. A clear story makes the company memorable and gives emotional texture. A clear analogy bridges any understanding gap and locks the message in for long-term recall.

Often, our marketing resembles a storefront with a streaky window and a jumbled display. It's too much effort to try to understand what's being offered.

It's not your customer's job to figure you out. It's YOUR job to cut through all the fog in less than half a minute with vivid, memorable language. If you have to go around the world in 80 days trying to explain who you are and what you do, filling us with fog, then you've got full-blown CDD.

The prescription for Clarity Deficit Disorder is to get clear vision regarding your company's DNA and message. I go nowhere without my prescription eyeglasses because, without them, everything is a blur. Whatever else I may invest in (or not), clear vision is a non-negotiable. And to stand out in a very crowded marketplace, a dose of clarity can make all the difference!

(Photo courtesy of Bigstock: Fog)

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Steve Woodruff is the world's only Clarity Therapist. He connects people with their purpose, their message, and with other people in order to create new business opportunities. He writes at the

Steve is an unusual hybrid of conceptualizer, strategist, marketer, analyst, wordsmith, semi-techie, and all-around decent fellow, except when there's bad coffee or lousy wine.

Steve can also be found on Twitter, LinkedIn.

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  • by Walter Thu Jul 26, 2012 via blog

    Excellent post at point out the "Whats" dense fog - zero visibility on the "How"

  • by Apryl Parcher Thu Jul 26, 2012 via blog

    On the money, Steve! I'm in the process of clarification in my own business, and what a difference it makes! LOVE the fact that you coined the acronym CDD. Brilliant!

  • by Steve Woodruff Thu Jul 26, 2012 via blog

    Walter - the cure to CDD is having a very precise and succinct offering, message, story, and analogy. Getting to that is real work - I have a process called Clarity Therapy that I employ. It's kind of a mix of branding consulting, professional therapy, and coaching - getting to the DNA level and then making the purpose and direction clear.

  • by Astrelfrog Thu Jul 26, 2012 via blog

    Stuff and nonsense! Clarity good. Conciseness? Very good. Twenty-eight seconds? Hogwash. Case in point: it took more than 28 seconds to read the rah-rah above. Would you like 28 second brain surgery? Not me!

    Cub Scout motto? Keep it simple. Make it fun! Excellent. Apply to marketing, reapply as needed.

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